With Halloween Approaching, City Changes Rules For Block Parties

October 14, 2009

Right after Halloween last year, West University Place residents rushed to file applications for this year’s ghoulish block parties. Within three days, three lucky residents filled up all the spots the city allows for block parties on the same day, said Police Chief Ken Walker.

So when a resident called Councilman George Boehme recently because he wanted to throw a block party to celebrate his wife’s birthday on Oct. 31, it first appeared that he was out of luck.

“He got told this year there were already too may block parties so they couldn’t have one,” Boehme said. The councilman called City Manager Michael Ross and found out that Walker was already on top of the problem.

On Monday, the city council approved a change to the West U ordinance that governs street events like block parties. The problem was the city owns a limited number of barricades needed to close streets for block parties.

Walker proposed that the city council change the street events ordinance to make it the residents’ responsibility to rent their own street barricades from a private company.

“That way we can have more parties happening on the same day,” he said. “It was one of those things where people questioned it, and then we started looking at it and wondered why it was done that way.”

The council on Monday also changed the way the city chooses a traffic control officer to approve events and work out the details of road closures. The old ordinance said the police chief would be the traffic control officer, but now the city manager or whomever he chooses will perform the duties.

These two changes may not be the last. Councilman Steven Segal questioned another portion of the street events ordinance that deals with fees the city charges to provide traffic control and to notify residents of street closures.

The ordinance explains how the city computes charges for both services, but then states that the maximum charge will be $300. What if the city’s costs are more than that, Segal asked?

“I wish you’d look at the fee aspect of this to make clear what’s going to take place in practice,” Segal said.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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